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Shutting Down Our Universities! By Gbemiga Ogunleye

If Federal Government officials who have demonstrated absolute incompetence and insensitivity by keeping our children at home when they should be in school studying, deserve to be tied to the stakes, then officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, too, deserve to be flogged publicly at the market square!
For, as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right! The cause of the strike is too well known to be stated here. Besides, this article does not seek to apportion blame. My concern is the plight of the students and to explore whether ASUU could have done things differently, especially, when dealing with people who are either stone deaf or genuinely unreasonable! To be sure, without the struggles of ASUU, public universities would have probably collapsed. Thanks to ASUU, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, was set up to provide the needed infrastructure and other ancillary facilities to the universities. But in my view, after going on strike for three months, without the government meeting its demands, it should be clear to the union that another option, other than strike ought to be explored. By extending the strike by another three months, ASUU is unconsciously aiding the government officials to destroy the future of the younger generation. The implications of keeping young children at home when they should be in school are probably lost on both ASUU and the government. The idle mind, they say, is the playground for the devil.
For a country still reeling from the disastrous effects of over 10 million out-of-school children, it beggars belief that it could afford to close down public universities for three months and officials of the state are not bothered. To add insult to the proverbial injury, those who are charged with the responsibility of resolving the ASUU crisis are busy campaigning and preparing for next year’s general election.
As a social critic, Tunde Fagbenle would say: What a country? On the part of the university lecturers, they are obviously sold on the idea that the only language government understands, is the language of the strike. But now that the government has turned a deaf ear to their grievances, shouldn’t they adopt another strategy? Couldn’t ASUU, for instance, have taken a cue from our women, who after the bills on women empowerment were rejected by the National Assembly, staged a series of protests at the National Assembly until the lawmakers promised to revisit the bills. Couldn’t ASUU have embarked on advocacy campaigns to our leading traditional rulers and elder statesmen (and women) on the need for them to make the government see reason. There is also the issue of the wisdom in embarking on a strike when political office holders are all busy, seeking reelection or reappointment.
Wouldn’t it be a better option for ASUU to table its grievances before the presidential aspirants of the political parties and invite them to an ASUU forum for them to discuss their plans for the education sector if elected next year. As the intellectual powerhouse of the country, wouldn’t it have been more beneficial to us all, if ASUU took interest in the ongoing process to amend the Constitution by proferring far-reaching constitutional amends like scrapping one arm of the National Assembly; making the legislature a part-time business, with members only being paid sitting allowances; limiting the number of ministers and commissioners to a manageable number, etc.
These actions will free up resources to be used to fund education. Rather, without blinking an eye, the union announced with glee that it was extending the three-month old strike by another three months, without considering the effect on not only the future of the students but also the interest of their poor parents who have laboured to send them to school. Perhaps the union took this step, confident that even if it went on strike for a year, nothing spoil, to borrow a street lingo. Their salaries and allowances would still be paid.
Now that university undergraduates have begun a series of protests over the continued closure of their campuses, ASUU should be ready to share part of the blame, should anything untoward happens to these students. Prolonging this strike is an ill wind that will do the country no good.
ASUU should be courageous enough to announce to the country, that following calls from well-meaning Nigerians and in consideration of the interests of the students and their parents, it has suspended the ongoing strike.
That, in my view, is the path of honour.


In Serial Raids, DSS Arrests Retired Soldier, Five Other Criminals

A retired soldier and five other suspected criminals operating along the Lokoja-Abuja highway have been arrested by operatives of the Department of State Security DSS.

In a statement on Sunday, Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesperson, said the suspected criminals were apprehended on March 26.

The DSS, in collaboration with sister agencies, also arrested a 20-year-old suspected kidnapper, identified as Haruna Adamu, in Adamawa.

Afunanya said a suspected gunrunner was apprehended in Abuja while travelling from Nasarawa to deliver arms to bandits in Niger state.

“The sum of twenty-one thousand, four hundred naira (N21,400) was also recovered from the suspect. Earlier on 22nd March, 2023, Babangida Ibrahim, an arms courier to bandits in Zamfara state was apprehended along Bukuru in Jos South LGA, Plateau state.

“Recovered from him were four hundred and sixty-eight (468) rounds of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition and the sum of twenty one thousand, ninety naira (21, 090).”

The DSS spokesperson said all the suspects are in custody and would be subsequently prosecuted.

He added that the DSS will continue to partner with relevant stakeholders to address crimes in the country.

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Pandora Papers: Law Firm Asks CCB To Prosecute Peter Obi For Not Fully Declaring Assets

A Lagos-based law firm, Lawflex has asked the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to prosecute Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, over his alleged failure to declare secret assets stashed in tax havens while he was Anambra state governor.

In a petition dated March 23 and received by the CCB on the same day, Olukoya Ogungbeje, the signee, urged the bureau to commence an immediate investigation against Obi and invite him for questioning.

The law firm threatened to seek a “judicial review by way of an Order of Mandamus in a court of competent jurisdiction in a bid to compel performance of public duty” if the CCB fails to take constitutional action within 30 days.

Leaked files, which were retrieved from 14 offshore service firms around the world and revealed in a Pandora Papers project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and which Premium Times was a part, had shown how the former governor failed to declare assets kept in tax havens.

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“A Fine Officer”, Lawan Mourns Diya

Ahmad Lawan, president of the Senate  has sent his condolences to the family of a former Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, over his death on Sunday.

Lawan also condoled with the government and people of Ogun State over the loss of the one-time number two citizen under the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha.

He described Gen Diya as a fine officer who played his role dutifully during some of Nigeria’s most critical times.

Lawan said, “Diya kept his dignity under the unfortunate circumstances that ended his military career and remained a respected member of his community until he breathed his last.”

The Senate president also prayed for sweet repose of the soul of the departed General and for fortitude for his family, friends and associates to bear his loss.


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